tv [untitled] March 8, 2012 5:00pm-5:30pm EST
my question to you are all aspects of the organization being considered for this reduction such as office closures, cuts to programs, reductions in force, how do you intend to consult with tribes during this process? >> mr. chairman the first point i would like to make has to do with consultation. the president gave us the directive on how to improve communication with tribes. the secretary of interior adopted its new consultation policy. in all of the areas that we do consultation, perhaps there's no
more important part than consulting on the budget. and thus, on a quarterly basis we assemble tribal leaders from all regions of the country to make sure that they have input on how we're crafting the budget. and i have to say that their position has been very clear to us that they do not support any cuts in spending through interior indian affairs. nevertheless they are very helpful to us in identifying what the priority areas are, and one of the messages that i've heard very clearly in this consultation policy over the last three years is that when budgets are tight and we have to be fiscally responsible, that tribal leaders say don't forget the federal government has got to take its turn too.
don't just turn to tribal programs and start chopping. and so in this 2013 request we have proposed stream lining which means that what we're going to do is look very carefully at what we can do more efficiently to consolidate programs, to do everything we can to tighten the federal government's belt. we're not going to do that just on our own. our plan is to move forward in a consultation process. we're not talking about reorganization here without the approval of the congress, but we're talking about identifying ways that we can save dollars in the federal bureaucracy so we can fund the priorities of tribes. and so we will be out there consulting beginning in april in listening to what tribes have to say about the areas where we can do that belt-tightening within the bureau of indian affairs, within the bureau of indian
education and within the office of the assistant secretary. thank you. >> thank you very much. it's good to hear that you will do it by consultation. in my rather brief experience with this area i find that somehow the indian tribes out there don't get the full message of many other things and to hear you consulting directly is really great to hear. >> thank you. >> dr. roubideaux, in your testimony you state that tribal consultation is fundamental to your budget formulation process
too. please discuss how tribal consultations led to tribal priorities being reflected in the proposed budget. >> well tribal consultation is fundamental. i really feel the only way we're going to improve the health of our communities is to work in partnership with them. we have a tribal budget formulation process that starts first at the local level and the area level. we have the 12 ihs areas in the fall they hold meetings with tribes, and they determine what the area level budget priorities are for tribes. and then we have a national budget consultation that occurs usually in january and february, where representatives from all the ihs areas come together and fight among each other to try to get their priorities into the
list. and there's so many priorities for funding, it's a very difficult conversation for our tribes, but i'm very grateful that they do that important work because it results in a great set of recommendations for us to use as we begin our budget formulation process. and so each year they present their budget priorities to me, and that's the first step in developing our proposals for the indian health service budget and it's an annual process so tomorrow the tribes will be presenting their recommendations on the 2014 budget and so i'm really looking forward to hearing their results as well. >> all right. thank you very much. let me know. ask vice chairman for his questions. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i want to talk about a couple of specific things and first for mr. echo hawk. the president's budget requests
$12 million for indian irrigation projects. none of these are in the proposed area of the wind river project in wyoming. according to a 2006 gao report there was a total of $84 million in deferred maintenance for this project. at our wyoming field hearing on irrigation last april the department of interior testified that they would begin working on a long term plan to repair the deferred maintenance on indian irrigation projects. i'm wondering what has the department done since april to reduce the deferred maintenance in be the within river irrigation project. >> senator, i'm not prepared to address that today but i would be happy to look into that and working with my staff get you and immediate answer to your question. >> thank you. i want to move on to law enforcement. the high priority performance goal pilot project was
implemented on the wind river reservation in wyoming to decrease violent crime rate, the goal was 5% over two years. yet after the two years the violent crime rates on the wind river reservation has increased by 7%. i underthere was an overall downward trend so some success in the rates over the last two years on a national basis but yet what we saw was unfortunately an increase. i'm wondering what efforts will be made to work to decrease the crime rates on the wind river reservation? >> senator, that's an excellent question and i'm happy to bring good news with me today because we did achieve the overall 35% reduction across the four reservations. wind river was the largest reservation that we dealt with, and it was the area where we had to bring in the most law enforcement officers, and i want to just emphasize that this is
not a surge, these officers that were funded will be there permanently. so it's not something where we fund it temporarily, see how it works and then back off. and, you know, it is correct that by the end of the 24 month period we actually had a 7% increase in crime there, but because it was large, because we had so many law enforcement officers come in there, and what happens when you bring in that large number of officers, you actually, you know, will generate more reports that come in and then eventually because people feel safer they report and then we start to see a downward trend. so after the 24 months ended, given another three months we actually decreased crime at wind river by 11%. so we knew that was probably going to be the case but we're obviously moving in the right
direction there, and that's good news for the community. >> good. i look forward to additional reports. dr. roubideaux, the president's budget request asks for $24 million for the health service program. you testified last year that the federal tribal work group the office review the funding formula and then make recommendationing to us. and i asked you last year whether the formula would include a consideration of mortality and morbidity rates because both of our experience as physicians we know how important that is. can you tell me whether those rates are factored into the formula and what decisions you have made? >> thank you for the question. contract health services is such an important budget priority, it really is the top priority. tribal leaders have been helping us over the past two years to make recommendations on how to improve the way we do business and to look at how we provide funding.
the work group decided that they needed to have another year to look at the impact of our recent budget increases to see how the formula really played out so we expect them to have their discussions about the formula and whether it needs be changed in the next year. >> i appreciate your attention, your personal attention to that given your background and then if you could involve me in some of the finding, i would be very grateful. thank you. senator franken mentioned some things about public safety, people needing a place to feel safe in their homes or in their workplace and i want to talk about, if i corks with you dr. roubideaux public safety and health care. they go hand-in-hand. patients and employees need to feel safe in a workplace especially in a place where pharmaceutical drugs need to be secured. at a budget hearing in 2008, before you were responsible, dr. coburn asked your predecessor,
mr. mcswain that what the indian health service was doing to protect the patients and employees and it was a specific hospital he was familiar with, clairemore in oklahoma. they were working with local jurisdictions so law enforcement could protect patients and staff at that facility. four years later. again it was not something that you were charged with, you inherited this problem but it's four years later and there's still not really been an adequate resolution to the problem. can you maybe help address what needs done resolve this matter? >> yes. well we are aware that the issue at clairemore indian hospital is serious and needs to be resolved as soon as possible. i just recently was briefed by staff. it looks like we've been working very closely with the department of justice and the bureau of indian affairs and they have outlined some administrative and possible legislative options.
and so the next step would be to decide what our priorities are for those options, and then to consult with the tribes because some of those options actually do involve whether the tribes will be helping us with this problem. we would be happy to discuss the details of those options with you, and work with you on this issue. but now that i've seen we've made progress in identifying some specific options, then i will do what i can to push for resolution. >> thank you very much very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator. my question is for the panel. the budget control act requires an enforcement mechanism called and i did mention in my opening remarks sequestration. and due to take effect in
january of 2013. my question to the panel is what would the sequestration have on the department's budget and your ability to provide core services to tribes? >> well, we are very concerned about the sequestration. for the indian health service a portion of our budget actually is protected in that automatic decrease would be less but it still would be 2%. and 2% for our budget equates to around $88 million, and that would have to be applied to both of our accounts in services and facilities. and so we already know that our system has had to absorb a lot
of costs including high medical costs and inflation and so on. and having another $88 million to try to absorb in our budget would be very painful and would be very difficult for our health care facilities and would certainly impact services, and so we're following the progress of this in congress, and i've been talking with tribes about, you know, if this occurs what's your preferences on where we might absorb these costs. and, of course, the tribes just are not -- they are very reluctant to have that conversation because they don't want this to happen because they've told me that this will have a very significant impact on the services in their communities. so we're following this very closely, and it will have a great impact, even though indian health service does get treat ad little bit better it's still a
significant impact. >> thank you. >> chairman akaka, we realize we're living in this era of constrained budgets. as we've consulted with tribes, we have received some targets by omb, you know, to craft budgets. this helps us figure out what our true priorities are. for instance we had to go through exercises where we went through 10% reduction then 7% reduction and even at the level we are now, in this proposal where it's .2 of 1% reduction it's very painful. we try to meet the tribes' priorities but like i said a few minutes ago we're stream lining and we're going after management efficiencies and this is painful for the federal government because we have trust responsibility to fulfill. so we have some feeling about
how painful it would be to undergo additional cuts in the budget, and i'm just hoping that, you know, things can be worked through the congress so that the sequestration does not automatically trigger because we're down to trying to solve problems that are very significant in indian country with a constrained budget already. >> thank you very much. i have further questions that i'll submit for the record. senator, are there any further questions? >> no, sir. >> well, i want to thank you so much to this panel for your responses. we do want to do the best that we can, and stream lining, of
course, is a difficult process, but, you know, it can certainly save and we look forward to things working out and if sequestration, i ask it primarily because it's something we hope we can work out at that time. so, i would like to thank our first panel very much for your patience and for being here today and look forward to working with you. thank you. now i would like to invite the second panel to the witness table.
the honorable off and on sharp, president of the affiliated tribes of northwest indians. the honorable mitchell hicks. principal chief of the eastern band of cherokee indians on behalf of the united south and own tribes. and the honorable robert shepherd, chairman of the tribes on behalf of the great plains tribal chairman association. welcome to you and thank you, again, for your patience. president sharp will you proceed with your testimony. ? >> thank you. we are truly honored to be here and thank you for the opportunity. we believe this is another reflection avenue era of
partnership with the united states. not only do we have a relationship with the president, but now with the legislature, the congress, and we thank you for that opportunity and your leadership. i would like to begin our remarks by speaking to natural resources issues. the northwest is rich with abundant wildlife, fish, hunting, gathering, and we would like to speak to a couple of issues that relate to, first of all, the b.i.e. rights protection fund. we appreciate the increase, the proposed increase from 28 million to 32 million, but we do recognize that when you look at the entire issue across the nation we are falling incredibly short of the other appropriations to our sister organizations, intertribal organizations throughout the united states.
for example the great lakes indian fish and wildlife commission is looking at an increase of 17% relative to our 5% for the northwest indian fish commission and the columbia river intertribal treaty commission. you look at chippewa ottawa authority and that's a 67% increase. so, in the northwest our two intertribal organizations are at a 5% level but these others are at a substantially higher level. so that's one issue that we noticed in the appropriations. a treaty is a treaty regardless of the geographical scope and our needs and our planning desperately need to have funding levels at a place where we can adequately protect our most precious resources. the second issue that relates to natural resources is the pacific coastal salmon recovery fund.
at one point at its height in 2002 our funding level was at $110 million. in 2011 it was 79 million. a further decrease in '12 to 65 million. this proposal for '13 is 50 million, a $15 million reduction. this funding is important for us as we protect our watersheds and our most precious resources and those natural resources that are subject to the endangered species act as well as protecting our most credible trust obligations not only for our generation but for future generations those funding levels must be at a place where our trust interests are protected. the next issue that we would like to speak to has to do with
law enforcement and public safety. in the northwest we have tribes that border international waters. we have tribes in montana, washington that border canada. and we've noticed too in this budget that there's a proposed reduction of 2.6 million in the special initiatives project. the special initiatives is designed, a component of that to contend with international drug trafficking and border security issues. as president of the nation i can attest to the gravity of law enforcement issues in indian country where we know that drug trafficking organizations have targeted our lands. the bureau, the justice reports that have been released have noted that. we have 30 miles of international border with 2,000 miles of logging roads from the ocean to highway 101, we have 22
points of entry. we've recovered, invested our own dollars into a drug task force. $400,000 of our own appropriations this year that resulted in first quarter 48 arrests with 100% conviction rate. we've recovered cocaine, heroin, meth, prescription pills and most recently in this last month our drug task force impounded a vehicle that came off of our logging roads and had an explosive device underneath it. this last fall a young mother with two children were hunting in an area next to our lake and they came across a dead body. she was not so long after discovering that body was surrounded by vehicles on all four corners. so we desperately need help in law enforcement and the bad guys have recognized we're very
vulnerable and it's not a time to reduce that critical fund. so, on behalf of the affiliated tribes of the northwest indians we fully support nci's request in their proposal and we thank you for this opportunity. >> thank you. thank you very much president sharp for your testimony. chief hicks, will you please proceed with your testimony. >> we appreciate the opportunity. it's good to be here today. good to be back in d.c. we're here to testify on behalf of the united south and eastern tribes which we're one of the founding members alongside of the seminoles of florida and the mississippi tribes. there's 26 member tribes within the organization. i've worked for many, many years on budget and finance issues.
i've served as budget and finance director and of course i also served in a capacity as an independent auditor for our tribe for a number of years with a new york based accounting firm. and i've held my certified public accounting license for 18 years now. and the reason i say that it's not to define myself but i understand how difficult the budgeting process. the eastern band has adopted a balanced budget act. because our government do not exceed available resource. i you know have to deal with a similar structure. one of the thing that i think we've done a very nice job of is identify through a needs base or critical priorities for government and, of course, you know, remembering what the obligation is, you know, to the people of our tribe and the people of our region. of course the 2013 budget should
reflect a federal priority of honoring its treaty and trust obligations to indian people and overall i think we can all say that we share concerns related to inflation, especially medical inflation and declines in allocations or allotments to specific areas that affect many tribal programs and, of course, the biggest issue that i think that we're all facing is just simple purchasing power. any time inflation kicks in, any time that you have your minimized resources, purchase power declines and it affects the services that we can put on the ground to the people. again, you know, in the various areas. i've been fortunate to travel throughout the nation, and to visit with many of the tribes that i'm testifying for today and there are a lot of needs in any country that are undone. there's a lot of need out there that we as a federal government we can't -- we can't leave it as it is. a number of priorities that have
to be addressed. of course, we all are aware of the history of the cherokee people. it's no secret to anyone, the travesties that's occurred and the history and treatment of all native peoples and tribes. we can't forget these travesties. we must remind ourselves about our obligation as tribal leaders we have to remind you folks about your obligation in regards to the trust responsibilities to take care of the people, and i guess as you look at, you know, this land that we're blessed with, there's not one inch of this particular land in our great nation that lies without native peoples blood that's entrenched deeply into this soil. not one inch. our identity and traditions are vibrant. even though we're less than 1% of the population, we're still a strong people and we still have considerable needs that have to be taken care of.
you said, believes that indian tribes should be held harmless. these budgeting priorities directly impact lives of our native people. and, you know, we've received, you know, various grants and through contracts and et cetera and just a couple of examples. the ihs -- i know there's been some small increase there this year but we have historically seen where surgeries have been postponed that were not life threatening but were critical and, again, with my travels throughout the nation there's a lot of need out there that has to be met. our hospital is currently funded at 60% of the current levels that it should have. and luckily and, again, we're blessed by having the resources to supplement that. but, again, you know today many tribes don't have that same opportunity. and, you know, i hope that as we go through this